SpaceX has a launch schedule for today, for a combined payload that includes 57 of its Starlink satellites, as well as two satellites it’s flying on behalf of BlackSky. The launch is set to take off at 11:59 AM EDT (8:59 AM PDT), from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch broadcast above will go live at around 15 minutes prior to that window, so at around 11:44 AM EDT (8:44 AM PDT).
This mission will increase the size of SpaceX’s Starlink constellation to 536 active production satellites, helping it move closer to its goal of launching an active consumer broadband internet service by later this year. The 57 satellites being launched today are all also equipped with a new ‘sun visor’ system devised by SpaceX to block reflections from the Sun on the Starlink satellite radio surfaces, which is a measure put in place to help limit their impact on night sky observation from Earth by scientists.
SpaceX previously launched one test satellite with the system installed, but this will be the first time all satellites on a Starlink flight will use the system. Alongside its own satellites, SpaceX is also making use of its new rideshare program to also loft satellites on behalf of BlackSky, which will join that company’s existing Earth observation network.
The Falcon 9 booster being used for this mission has flown on four prior missions, including SpaceX’s first demonstration mission for Crew Dragon to the International Space Station. It’ll attempt a landing again today aboard SpaceX’s floating landing barge in the Atlantic Ocean.
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